'MINESTRA'

I love Minestrone.  When I was a child, I am told I would eat two big bowls of it (while my little brother had to be distracted by playing with boats in a water tub because he hated all things except peanut butter sandwiches without crusts and mashed potato).  As an adult?  I do the same.

Everyone has their own minestrone recipe, and truthfully, I never do the same thing twice and believe Minestrone can be made out of the vegetables that haven't been used yet at the end of the week (I endorse this fully, less waste!), but this recipe is my ideal situation and my perfect mix.

The only 100% necessary constant for me?  Pumpkin.  And the soup MUST be cooked until the pumpkin has disintegrated to make it thick and decadent.

Yes, vegetables in soup is decadent to me.  

So here it is - my Minestrone, or, as Nonna calls it, 'Minestra'

(stay tuned for the behind the scenes snaps & styling tips at the bottom).

NATALIE ZEE MINESTRONE SOUP RECIPE

The best part about Minestrone?  

It's all chop-chop-chop and throw in a pot.

BLOG MINESTRONE NATALIE ZEE RECIPE

NATALIE'S MINESTRA

You will need;
- 1/2 a medium sized pumpkin, chopped into small-ish cubes
- 1 large white potato, diced larger than the pumpkin
- 2 sticks of celery, sliced
- 1/4 of a cabbage, shredded roughly (with a knife will do)
- 1 head of broccoli, chopped roughly (including stem)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 can of the best quality crushed tomatoes you can get
- About 150gms of pasta of your choice (my choice?  Always thin spaghetti).
- 1 can of cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- Fresh herbs (oregano or basil) or dried oregano.
- Parmesan cheese, and the rind if possible (or this is a great time to use that left over rind).

To make it;
1. Pop all of the ingredients except for the chickpeas and pasta in a pot and top with water.  Include your parmesan rind too, if you have one.

2.  Bring to the boil and then simmer - most likely for about 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin is mushy (important!).

3.  Add the chickpeas and pasta (and a little extra water, if needed, as the pasta will absorb a lot), and cook until the pasta is al dente (or, 'all dental', if my spell check is to be trusted).

4.  To serve, season to taste and top with even more parmesan cheese, grated on top.

(My Nonna likes to make it with a fresh chilli inside so the heat works through the soup, which is delicious, but the chillies I have at the moment are too hot for it!)
 

BLOG MINESTRONE NATALIE ZEE RECIPE
BLOG MINESTRONE NATALIE ZEE RECIPE

I thought it would also be fun to start sharing a few behind the scenes snaps (just from my phone, nothing fancy), with each post.  So, see below (and you're always welcome to ask me questions via Insta DM or email - natalie@nataliezee.com, and I'll do my best to answer them in future posts).

MINESTRONE-BEHIND-THE-SCENES-NATALIE-ZEE.jpg

And finally, as I'm not into eating cold food, and therefore super passionate about photographing food the day after (as this was), my top tip for photographing soup the day after without having to heat it?

Mix extra water through it to get it's warmed consistency before you put it in the bowls, and once it's in the bowl, spray the top with water if anything looks a bit dry.

(I'll be sharing more tips on my newsletter over coming months - if you'd like to be included, head here).

Don't forget to tag me (@natalie.zee) or email me if you give this recipe a try, I'd love to see it & share it on my stories!

And what were the three ingredients not pictured?  Canned tomatoes, cheese rind & chickpeas!

Thanks for reading,

Nat x
 

15 MINUTE RAVIOLI / M'S WORK LUNCH

This recipe?  SO simple, that I'm not even sure it's worth posting (well, I wasn't, but here I am).  

But then you, online and offline, told me that you would never have thought of it and it WAS worth sharing, kind of like my 3-ingredient satay hack (which I will also share soon).

So here I am, back and blogging, in more of a personal style rather than a 'May put in recipe book one day' style, and I like it because I love writing and sharing and I genuinely LOVE what I do.  So in a world of 'wtf is going on with insta?', I am focusing my energy elsewhere.

Including my mailing list which will start up again this month (and you can subscribe to here).

For now?  M's lunch from this week - super, duper, simple ravioli.

 

 The beautiful bowl?   Clay Bee Hive

The beautiful bowl?  Clay Bee Hive

TO MAKE THIS RAVIOLI...

You need;
- a 500g packet of your favourite ravioli (these are beef, because M rarely gets meat at home!)
- 1 cup of good-quality flavoured passata (I used Mutti 'Simply Sugo' Basil & Onion)
- 2 zucchini, roughly chopped (or peas, or any other vegetable!)
- A handful of torn fresh oregano or basil
- A handful of fresh spinach
- Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional, but so highly recommended)

Then you simply;
- Boil the ravioli as per packet instructions, adding your zucchini/other vegetable half way through.
- Drain the pasta and put the passata/sugo in the pot with a splash of water.  Cook it for a minute or two.
- Add the pasta back into the pot with the spinach and fresh herbs and stir, on super low heat, for 1 minute or until the spinach has wilted.
- Pop into 4 containers and top with cheese.

That's it!

I love adding onion and garlic at home (just fry off on the pan quickly after the pasta is removed in a little olive oil then add everything back in), but the last thing M, or anyone else needs to do in an office, is eat garlic or onion.

NATALIE ZEE - RAVIOLI.jpg

And as for it not being a high-protein low-carb power lunch with quinoa and chia seeds and sweet potato only?  Well, we like pasta (and a big part of the reason I changed my name from 'Healthy Natty' is because some people thought, as a 'healthy' person, I shouldn't?).

Thanks for reading!  & be sure to share it on Insta (tag/message/send off a flare so I don't miss it and can share it!) if you give it a go.

I'll be sharing my Minestrone recipe next week, so I'd be super-honoured if you stay tuned.

Chat then,
Nat x
 

SIMPLE CORN PANCAKES

One of my favourite things to do is make a recipe under pressure - it's 7pm, you have I have NO idea what's for dinner yet and I have to rustle something up before 7.30 so we're not starving and eating chips and cheese for dinner, but we don't have much in the kitchen.


That's when something like this Corn Pancake comes along (and is also a great opportunity to show you how I quickly style the same dish in a couple of different ways for a client).

CORN PANCAKE-1.jpg

SIMPLE CORN PANCAKE
(serves 4)

- 2 cans of corn kernels, drained
- 2 small onions, diced & fried off
- 1 crushed garlic clove, fried for a minute with the onions before taking off the heat
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp smokey paprika
- 1/2 a cup of wholemeal flour (or spelt, or rye, or rice got gluten free)
- A handful of dill, roughly chopped
- Grated mozzarella and parmesan
- Salt & Pepper to taste
  
 
Mix everything together and then fry in a medium frying pan like a giant thick pancake, finishing under the grill (adding the cheese on top for the last 2 minutes under the grill).  

Serve with yoghurt or sour cream, spring onion, more paprika, chilli and lime.

CORN PANCAKE-5.jpg
CORN PANCAKE-3.jpg

Tag me @natalie.zee on Instagram if you give it a go.

Nat x

WHERE DID HEALTHY NATTY GO?

 From when I first started 'Healthy Natty' - self made first logo & all.

From when I first started 'Healthy Natty' - self made first logo & all.

So today is the day I've let go of Healthy Natty. I won't lie, it's scary, but being a 'blogger' wasn't working for me and a series of events led me to realise what my true passion is - it's 100% photography, followed very closely by writing, marketing, recipe developing and so on.
 

 One of my very-early phone-taken food photos (about 3 years ago).  I remember being so, so excited about and proud of this photo.

One of my very-early phone-taken food photos (about 3 years ago).  I remember being so, so excited about and proud of this photo.

And my goal in life?  Be a photographer for one of my favourite magazines, and be respected like some of my industry favourites are for their work - not for their Instagram following (and it's worth noting by the way that all of the photographers I admire most have an almost non-existent
social media following.  Social media numbers mean nothing in the real world, but that's just my opinion).

Feeling like I 'had' to blog, and 'had' to share recipes to get more traction and visits to my blog just didn't interest me.  Nor do the daily emails I get offering to work with me in exchange for me advertising a product, or the apps that make that easier, or sharing loads about my personal life and what I got up to.  'Healthy Natty' was also a name that didn't resonate with me any more. I feel like 'Healthy' on social media means something totally different to what it means to me.  

But there were two main moments that pushed me over the to just using my name.

The first was doing a course with The School about a year ago that really helped me focus on what I wanted to do.  There's nothing like being around incredibly inspiring and talented humans at the top of their games to help you focus.

The second was a couple of months ago when a potential (and now very valued) client was excited to work with me but, producing a dessert-based product, said 'The only problem might be that we're not healthy food'...

I think, if you're going to work for yourself, spend time identifying exactly what it is you want to do and work towards that.  In my eyes, if I can't be doing exactly what I want to do, I might as well keep photography as a hobby and go back to working an office because whatever business you run, it's not easy.  It has to be worth it, right?

I will obviously still blog here, but when I feel like it - when inspiration strikes, or I feel like I can give something back, or I'm particularly proud of some work, or a recipe, or ... well, whatever takes my fancy.  Without the pressure to 'keep active', but will all the freedom to be creative.

So this is the next chapter - me, Natalie Zee, that's it.  I really feel life is a giant journey so who knows what will come next, but for now I'm really comfortable being me, and excited for whatever comes next.

Thank you for reading,

Nat x

 Always learning about life... (and cameras).

Always learning about life... (and cameras).